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Gerald Thurston

Anchored firmly in the design aesthetics of the mid-20th century, Gerald Thurston was one of the most innovative American lighting designers of the post-WWII era. He incorporated graceful forms and lustrous materials into his lamps and lighting fixtures, and throughout the 1950s and 1960s he collaborated with Lightolier to produce some of the most iconic and still-sought-after lighting furnishings. Thurston came along at a propitious time; Lightolier had forged a relationship with the Italian company Artluce, founded by aeronautical engineer and modern lighting innovator Gino Sarfatti. Thurston was strongly influenced by Sarfatti’s design methods, which blended utilitarianism with sophisticated lighting effects. As a result, many of Thurston’s designs incorporated moveable directional-beam lighting and toggles for multiple lighting levels. An example is the Lytespan Floor Lamp, which has several lamp heads mounted at height intervals to a single pole; each was individually switched and movable so it could be aimed precisely where needed. His aluminum Double Lamp featured two lamp heads mounted on separate goosenecks that could be turned and bent in virtually any direction; the fixture has been often copied and was ubiquitous in American homes for decades. Thurston also experimented with combinations of different materials — brass with porcelain or wood, for example — to create lamps and fixtures that were both functional and sculpturally decorative. His brass-and-teak tripod design was a popular form and has many variations. The swing-arm wall lamp combined wood, brass and a low-profile shade, and the fixture was moveable from left to right. Thurston passed away in 2005 at 91 years of age, but his unique, sleek, mid-century designs continue to be sought by collectors and can command high prices in today’s market.